audio, blog, Pat Aitcheson writes, short story

Inktober 17 – Ornament

 

girl-figurine_Sofie Zborilova
Image by Sofie Zborilova via pixabay

listen:

I worked my way through each room, bagging things for the trash or for donation. Who knew how much stuff one person could accumulate? Well I did, even then. When I finally escaped that overstuffed space I could finally breathe. My own taste is pretty minimalist. No surprise there.

Now I find myself staring at shelves filled with china ornaments. I always hated those winsome shepherd girls and grinning sailor boys. Mum made me clean them weekly with a feather duster under her eagle-eyed supervision. She said they were Royal Doulton, collector’s items. A collection is pretty meaningless without the one who pulled it together, but maybe she left me something valuable after all.

I check the mark on the base of the nearest one. The words ‘Made in China’ leap out at me. Did she trick me, or did she fool herself? What was it all for?

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry as the figurine slips from my shaky hand and shatters on the floor. The rest make the most satisfying sounds when I hurl them at the wall.


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blog, Pat Aitcheson writes, poetry

sea glass season

sea-glass_treenabelle
treenabelle via pixabay

Every year it comes again, this subtle sense of loss — a missing piano note. I’ve erased and rewritten our story so many times over that the memory now is ragged and blurred. Too much clings to the fabric. There’s no space to start afresh.

Sharp edged criticism and disappointments have mellowed, tumbled over and over in an ocean of days and tears and never minds. What was once harsh and bitter turns soft and hazy. Perhaps one day even these will disappear, all the corners worn away until nothing remains.

I wonder if she ever heard me cry, holding jagged shards to my heart instead of comfort.

I cannot bear to wait for an echo that remains silent, so I do not sing the missing note. It sits inside my chest, bound and shackled.

Each early summer season it tries to escape. My throat is barricaded and I will not.

The past is veiled for my protection, bubble-wrapped in half-truths and semi-plausible explanations. We do our best and it is not enough. One always wants more than the other can give.

A never ending game played out across generations. Rules are unclear and the dice are loaded.

One day, my daughter too will cast the wishes I unknowingly broke into her private sea, hoping fragments will wash ashore smooth enough to hold.